I am a sucker for Intuitive Truths.
What this means is universal truths you can find in the world around you and/or within yourself by thinking about them.
How and when this came about doesn’t much matter (unless you are writing a biography). But back in my teens I was deeply enthralled in philosophical and metaphysical discussions regarding the nature of reality.
Of course, the allegory of Plato’s Cave deeply shaped my reality. But If I have to be honest, I read Epicurus of Samos and Nietzsche before I did Plato’s work. And I am not sure how much they shaped my reality, but certainly they played a part.
The point of this is not whether my vision of reality and objective truth is the correct one. Reality is shaped by subjective experiences just as much as what we consider ‘objective truth’ is shaped by private and/or personal interpretations of the world. One must be a Boltzmann’s brain to be truly objective.
The problem I see with this is the lack of teaching Intuitive Truths. My best experiences back in school were not related to what I learned (and I did learned a lot of cool shit mixed with the boring parts) related to what any one particular teacher taught me. My best times were related to the truths I learned about the world and about myself by simply thinking about concepts I have never thought about before. This came about in the subject of “Ethics“. We also had “Philosophy“, but the link between the two is somewhat buried and, in a sense, they could be thought of as one and the same.
I learned about perspective. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes and thinking about how my life experiences and life in general would have been different if I was born in a different time, in a different place, and with a completely different set of values and religious beliefs. And given all that, how would my life outlook would differ compared to my current one.
Back to intuitive truths. I can understand why people do what they do, the way the behave or think, based on my understanding that the socio-political and economical environment of a person deeply shapes their reality. Their environment is a form of social conditioning.
I can understand in the same sense, that if an object is glowing red or white I should not put my hand on it. This is a learned experience. But I can extrapolate the same concepts to objects I have never seen before.
If I think hard about it, I can understand why the grass is green. Not because I am a genius, but because I can extrapolate the basic workings of cell biology into chlorophyll, then think about that, and what I know about the light spectrum and make a reasonable observation as to why something is green and not yellow.
In a sense, all this boils down to the so-called Socratic method. Learning by thinking, by asking questions, by merging experiences of the known into the unknown.
This is all well and good, but I no longer see this method applied in schools anymore. I grew up with things around me that always tickled my curiosity, eager to learn answers. We are failing our kids in that regard. No amount of memory learning can surpass learned knowledge from understanding ‘within’, if you like.